The Best and Worst Kinds of Tourism

The Best

  • Getting off the tourist track. Often this only requires a few steps, but finding the right ones can be difficult.
  • Eating what the local people eat, street food, what is fresh, or what is recommended by your server.
  • Free coat checks in museums.
  • Free wi-fi at McDonald’s.
  • Morning markets with fresh local ingredients sold directly by farmers.
  • Meeting local people who don’t want to sell us something.
  • Meeting travelers and sharing experiences.
  • The kindness of strangers.
  • Talking with children who think we’re something exotic.
  • Picnics with wine.
  • Watching the sun set while talking with a loved one.
  • Learning about the history, art, and culture of the places we’re visiting.
  • Walking randomly through a city to absorb its ambiance.
  • Enjoying coffee at a sidewalk café and watching the world go by.

The Worst

  • Carrying around an iPad (which is fine), but then holding it up to use it as a camera.
  • Audio guides turned up so loud that those nearby can’t hear themselves think.
  • Churches that charge for admission. The reason they built these grand monuments in the first place was to attract people to the faith. In general I give these a miss, unless there is a compelling reason to visit (e.g. Rome).
  • Churches that provide free admission for the faithful, only to sequester them in a tiny area, while the majority of the church is overrun by tourists.
  • People who talk in churches, requiring periodic announcements on loudspeakers, “Ssssssssssssss….. Silencioooo. No talking please”. Although talking can distract people at prayer, I’m sure that these amplified admonitions, like an ethereal voice from above, have the same effect.
  • People who take photos in churches when it is forbidden.
  • People who dress inappropriately in churches.
  • 17 countries in 12 days
  • Being forced to exit through the gift shop
  • Charging money to use a bathroom. Especially the gas stations that charge a hefty fee rather than a token amount, then in false compensation provide a gift certificate not quite large enough to buy anything in their shop, almost requiring one to spend even more money. Who knew that elimination could be a marketing opportunity?
  • Having to register or show identification to use the Internet anywhere in Italy due to terrorism paranoia.
  • An Italian pizza in Venice topped with French fries and segments of hot dog.
  • “I don’t know what it is Martha, but git a picture of me with it anyhow”

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6 thoughts on “The Best and Worst Kinds of Tourism

  1. I agree with your good and bad observations regarding tourism. And, if you don’t get too caught up in the rush of everyday life you can even do some of those good things at home. i.e – sunsets and wine.
    We avoid churches while travelling. I will only look at the outside. I hope you took a picture of that hot dog, french fry pizza. Was it called “the American”.
    “Hey Martha, what do you think those hairy cot verts are?”

  2. I think the “Hey Martha, … ” comment should be up in the “Best” column. Chuckle.
    It sounds like you’re having a great trip.

  3. nice blog – as usual. One on my ‘worst list’ (If I’d ever had the imagination to have one) is the churches that set the rules for dress. In a lot of cases they won’t allow, for example, shirts and tee shirsts. It is stunning to me that they have this rule when almost all churches one visits have naked or at the very least, scantily clad statury. I’m sure the big man won’t be offended by a few tourists’ tanned limbs, so who makes up the rules and why are they so uptight?

    1. I agree Martin. The human body is a beautiful thing (some more than others). I would draw the line at bathing suits and bikinis, if only because it’s cold in those big old stone churches. And, if they’re charging admission, all bets are off.

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